Layers Pane

The Layers pane lists all layers in a window and provides basic controls.  The Layers pane is the primary user interface when maps have many layers, and for setting layer characteristics, like layer opacity, even when maps have few layers.

 

The Layers pane allows us to alter the order of layers in the display stack, turn layers on and off, and group layers together in folders that allow one-click on/off of many layers at once.    We can also change layer opacity, and specify the background color of a window.   We can also set the Pick mode,  whether objects in the layer can be picked with an Alt-click to show attributes or to edit the object, and we can set the Snap mode, whether objects in the layer can be snapped to when editing drawings.   

 

The Layers pane works for drawing, image and map windows, and it also controls the order and appearance of frames in layouts and columns in tables.  

 

By default, the Layers pane appears with the Project pane and the Contents pane in a tab strip to the right of the Manifold desktop.

 

 

When panes are docked, if the Project pane or the Contents pane is in the foreground, click on the Layers pane tab to bring the Layers pane forward.   The Layers pane can be switched off and on from the main menu by using View - Panes - Layers.

 

 

In the illustration above all of the layers are on except the Bing satellite layer, which is off.   The Background layer is a virtual "layer" present in all visual display windows.  It provides a layer of background color, by default white, as seen in the sample color box.  Double-click into the color box to change the color.     When using imageserver layers like Bing or Canvas, which completely fill their layers with pixels, the background color will not be visible if the imageserver layers are at 100% opacity.

 

Shift-click the Layers pane's name tab to undock the Layers pane.   Shift-click the title bar to dock it again.   An undocked Layers pane can be resized and moved anywhere on our Windows desktop.  See the User Interface Basics topic.

 

When working with an undocked Layers pane, we should size the pane to provide more vertical room when working with many layers.

Controls

The Layers pane shares many of the same controls as a table.  For example, the keyboard arrow keys move the current cell, indicated by a dotted outline, up and down, left and right.    Layers can be selected just like rows in tables can be selected.

 

For a step-by-step illustrated tutorial to the Layers pane, see the Example: Layers Tutorial topic.

 

 

Some controls in the toolbar are enabled when one or more layers have been selected by Ctrl-clicking a layer.    

 

 

Toolbar command buttons are not enabled if there is only one layer, and they are not enabled when only the Background is selected.  The Delete button is not enabled for the Background and it is not enabled when one layer remains in a drawing, image or labels window.

 

The Layers pane shares the same table-style, "grid" user interface used throughout Manifold where items are presented in rows and columns.  The subject of commands and actions is designated by:

 

 

 

Ctrl-click on a layer or folder to select it or deselect it.  

 

 New Folder

Create a new folder using the New Folder dialog, which allows naming the new folder.   Add layers to the new folder by selecting them and using the Move to Folder button.

 

Keyboard shortcut: Insert

 Move to Folder

Move all selected layers into the folder chosen from the drop down list.   The drop down list also provides a Move to Root choice that moves selected layers out of all folders, that is, to the root of the list.

    Move up

Move all selected items up in the list.

 Move down

Move all selected items down in the list.

 Move to Top

Move all selected items to the top of the list, retaining their relative orders at the top of the stack.

 Move to Bottom

Move all selected items to the bottom of the list, retaining their relative orders at the bottom of the stack.

 Delete

Delete selected items from the window. We cannot delete the Background from a window.  Does not appear for table windows.

 

This does not delete the components from the project: it only removes them as layers from the window.  

 

If a map has one layer we can delete that to leave a blank map.  However, with only one layer in a drawing, image or labels window we cannot delete the defining layer from its own window.   

 

To delete a folder without deleting the layers it contains, empty the folder by selecting all layers in the folder and then using the Move to Folder button to move layers to the root, that is, out of the folder.  We can then select the folder (do not forget to deselect the layers that were moved out) and delete it.

Filter Box

Enter text to be matched, case not significant.   The list of layers and folders will be reduced to show only those which match the text.    For example, entering ro will reduce the list to layers such as roads, railroads, and crops, all of which have the two letter sequence ro in their names, but will not include layers like buildings or places.   Applies to both layers and folders.  

 

If the filter shows a layer within a folder that does not match the filter, the folder will appear anyway.  For example entering ro will show both a roads layer that matches the filter, and also a Transportation folder that does not match the filter, if the roads layer is in that Transportation folder.

 Filter / Configure

Filter by type of component, for example, to show only drawings, or only images, or only labels in maps, or to show only non-computed fields or only computed fields with tables.  

 

Also configures the control column to show controls.  With maps, choices are:

  • Opacity  - Set the layer's opacity in %.

  • Pick Mode - Allowing objects/pixels in the layer to be picked.

  • Snap Mode - Allowing objects in the layer to guide snaps or not.

 

With tables, choices are:

  • Type - Show the data type of each field.

  • Width - Show width of fields in points.

Expanded / collapsed icons appear next to a folder.  Click + to expand a collapsed folder.  Click - to collapse an expanded folder.

 

Switching between windows preserves the expanded/collapsed status of folders for each window.  Moving commands automatically expand folders that contain selected layers, to make the effect of commands visible.  

 

Keyboard shortcuts when the cursor is on a folder:  + key or the right arrow to expand, and the - key or the left arrow to collapse.

Double-click the opacity % setting to change the opacity of a layer in percent. No need to enter the % character when changing opacity.  Applies to all selected layers.

Click  the on/off box to toggle the layer off and on.  Applies to all selected layers.  Filled box = Layer displayed.  Empty box = Layer hidden.  

 

Click a folder's on/off box to turn the folder off and on, including everything within the folder.  When a folder is turned off, and then back on, the on/off status of all items within the folder will be preserved when it is turned back on.

 

A faint gray box appears for items that are hidden because the folder they are in is off, but which again will be displayed when the folder is turned on.

 

When a layer is turned off, objects in it cannot be edited, picked or selected.  That makes sense, since the layer and what it contains are hidden.

spacebar

Toggles the current layer on/off.   Same as clicking the on/off box.

Color well showing the background color.  Double-click the Background row or the color well to change the background color.

Click

Click a layers in the layers list to make it the context item in the list.  This does not make that layer active in the corresponding map, layout, or table (use Alt-click for that).  It simply moves the cursor to that row.  This is mainly used to mark the spot above which a folder will be created when adding folders to the layers pane.

Alt-click

Alt-click a visible layer to pick it, putting the list cursor on that layer.  Alt-clicking a layer in the Layers pane will make it the active layer in a map, the active frame in a layout, and the active column in a table, scrolling it into view.  

 

This is a great way to bring a column into view in tables that have very many fields, or to bring a layer tab into view and make it active in a map that has very many layers.   When layers are within a folder, and thus packaged within the same tab in a map, Alt-clicking a layer in the folder will make that folder the active layer and will switch the layer tab to using that layer.

Right-click

Right-click a layer and choose Active has the same effect as Alt-clicking that layer:  that makes it the active layer  in a map, the active frame in a layout, and the active column in a table, scrolling it into view.    As with Alt-click, the layer must be visible (turned on for display) to make it active with a right-click.  If the layer is already active, the Active choice will indicate that with a dot icon.

Ctrl-click

Ctrl-click onto a layer to select or to de-select that layer.

 

Ctrl-clicking a folder will select or de-select all sub-folders and layers within that folder.

Controls Apply to All Selected Layers

Controls such as opacity, the layer on/off boxes or various Move Up or Move Down controls apply to all selected layers or folders.   

 

This allows us to apply the same settings or action to many layers or folders at once.   Selecting more than one layer or folder is a convenient way of moving more than one layer up or down, simultaneously changing the opacity of multiple layers at once and so on.

 

Move buttons will move all selected items, layers and folders, together.   Selected items need not be next to each other in the stack to be moved in the same relative direction up or down.   Commands will have no action on layers for which they are impossible.  For example, if several layers are selected and one of them is the lowest layer in the stack then that last layer will not move on a Move down command while the rest the selected layers will move down one step.

 

Folders are persistent in components where layers are persistent.  For example, if we move layers into folders in a map, or fields in a table, or frames in a layout, and we then close and reopen the component, or if we save, close, and then reopen the project, those folders will still be in place.    In contrast, for components like drawings or images where layers are temporary and go away when the window is closed, any folders that are specified in the Layers pane will go away, along with the layers, when the drawing or image window is closed.   To save folders in layers for drawing or image windows, use Edit - Save as Map to save the drawing or image window as a map.

Filter / Configure Button

The Filter / Configure button configures the display within the Layers pane.   It filters what type of layers are shown, and it configures the control column to show controls for opacity, pick mode or snap mode.

 

Press the Filter / Configure button for a menu of choices.

 

 

Choosing Drawings will filter the Layers pane to only showing layers that are drawings.

 

 

Choosing All will restore display of all layer types.  

Showing Opacity, Pick Mode and Snap Mode

Press the Filter / Configure button to configure the control column to display Opacity, Pick Mode, or Snap Mode.   Setting Opacity, Pick Mode, or Snap Mode for a layer in a map applies only to how that layer participates in that particular map, or any copies we make of that map.   If we disable picks for a layer in a map, that does not change Pick Mode for that layer in some other map.

 

 

By default, the Layers pane shows opacity controls.    We can change that by pressing the Filter / Configure button.

Pick Mode

Choosing Show Pick Mode will switch the control column to showing the Pick mode status of each layer.  A pick mode of pick means that objects in that layer may be picked for use in the Record pane with an Alt-click or a Shift-Alt-click.  

 

 

Double-click a pick mode cell to change pick mode for that layer.

 

 

Choose no pick to change the pick mode of a layer to not allowing picks of objects in that layer.   A no pick mode is indicated with a blank pick mode cell.  

Snap Mode

Press the Filter / Configure button to switch the control column to displaying Snap Mode.

 

 

Choosing Show Snap Mode will switch the control column to showing the Snap mode status of each layer.  A snap mode of snap means that objects in that layer may be used to guide snapping when editing drawings or when using the Tracker tool.  

 

 

We can double-click a snap mode cell to change snap mode.   If we want to change many layers at once, we Ctrl-click layers to select them, and then we double-click the snap mode cell in any of the selected layers.

 

 

Choose no snap to turn off snapping.   Changing a snap mode in any selected layer will change snap mode for all selected layers.   A no snap mode is indicated with a blank snap mode cell.  

 

 

Deselect all layers with a Shift-Ctrl-A keyboard shortcut, or with a quick Ctrl-A, Ctrl-I sequence, which some people find easier to keyboard.

Width or Type in Table Fields

When showing "layers," that is fields, in a table, the Layers pane can show the width of the field's column in points or the data type of the field.

 

 

With tables, the Layers pane shows the width of field columns by default.   We can switch to showing data types for fields by choosing  Show Type.  

 

 

We can also use the Filter / Configure button to filter display to only fields that are not computed, or to only computed fields.

Layers Pane with a Map

 

In addition to the layers tab strip at the bottom of a map window the Layers pane is our primary interface to see what is in the window and to manage layers.    The list shows the display order of layers in the window, with higher layers in the list rendered above lower layers in the list.  A "virtual layer" called the Background appears at the bottom of the list to allow us to control the background color of the window and to turn background color off and on.

 

 

Click on the on/off box to turn a layer off and on, and double-click the % value to change the opacity of a layer.  For example, the buildings layer in the illustration above has an opacity of 50%.  We can easily move one or more layers up and down the list, delete them from the map and combine them within folders for easy management as a group.

 

The illustration above shows only a few layers, but when there are dozens of layers in a map the Layers pane is the only way to manipulate layer ordering, to group layers into folders, and to quickly turn layers off and on.

Layers Pane with a Layout

 

With layouts the Layers pane controls the vertical order of frames in the display stack, their transparency and whether they are on or off for display.  We can also select frames by selecting them in the Layers pane.

Layers Pane with a Table

 

With tables, the Labels pane controls the horizontal placement of columns in the table, their width or data type, and whether they are on or off for display.

 

 

 Click the filter/configure button to switch between showing the width of field columns or their data types.

Background Color

The Layers pane shows a check box to turn the Background color on and off.  The Background is not a real layer in that it does not correspond to any drawing, image or labels layer in the context window.

 

 

The Background shows what color to put underneath all other layers.  By default, background color is white.  We can change it by double-clicking into the color well and we can turn it on or off for display like the other layers.   Changing the background color to a color other than white allows us easily to see if any white space in the window is part of the background or not.   See the Example: Layers Tutorial topic.  

Keyboard Controls

Experienced users working with many layers report it is often quicker to use the keyboard to toggle layers on/off, to select layers, and to move selected layers up and down.  The current layer is the one with the cursor (dotted outline) around it.

 

Ctrl-A, Ctrl-I

Ctrl-A is Select All, to select all layers.  Ctrl-I is Select Inverse, to invert the selection.  A quick way to de-select all layers is to do a quick Ctrl-A followed by a Ctrl-I

Shift-Ctrl-A

Shift-Ctrl-A deselects all layers.   Whether this is easier/quicker than doing a quick Ctrl-A followed by a Ctrl-I is a matter of individual taste and keyboarding habits.

spacebar

Toggles the current layer on/off.   Same as clicking the on/off box.  No effect on folders.

Ctrl-spacebar

Select / Deselect current layer or folder.  Same as Ctrl-clicking the layer or folder.

Ctrl-Up Arrow

Ctrl-Down Arrow

Move selected layers or folders up or down in the stack.

Enter

Begin editing opacity in current cell.

Up, Down Arrow Keys

Move current cell cursor up or down.

Right Arrow

Expand a closed folder.

 

+

The + key expands a closed folder.

Left Arrow

Collapse an open folder.

-

The - key collapses an open folder.

Home

Move current cell cursor all the way to the left (layer names).

End

Move current cell cursor all the way to the right (on/off box).

Ctrl-Home

Move current cell cursor to the top layer.

Ctrl-End

Move current cell cursor to the bottom layer (Background).

Page Up

Page Down

Move current cell cursor up or down one page's worth.

Scroll bar

A vertical scroll bar appears when there are more layers than can fit into the display.   Scrolling the display does not move the current cell cursor.

Scroll bar clicks

Clicks in the scroll bar region:

 

  • Click and drag onto scroll bar handle - scroll the display.

  • Click above or below scroll bar handle - Same as Page Up or Page Down.

  • Shift-Click above or below scroll bar handle - Jump to that position.

Scroll bar context menu

Right-clicking onto the scroll bar calls up a context menu:

 

  • Scroll Here - Drag the scroll bar handle to the spot right-clicked and scroll the display accordingly.

  • Top - Scroll the display to the top.

  • Bottom - Scroll the display to the bottom.

  • Page Up - Scroll the display up one page.

  • Page Down - Scroll the display down one page.

  • Scroll Up - Scroll the display up one row.

  • Scroll Down - Scroll the display down one row.

 

Example: Turn Many Layers On or Off

When there are many layers in a window it can be much quicker to turn layers off and on by using the Layers pane instead of double-clicking tabs in the tab strip of a window.   Clever use of folders as well as selection with Ctrl-A to Select All and Ctrl-I to Select Inverse can greatly reduce the number of clicks.    

 

Suppose we start with a mix of many layers, some of which are on and some of which are off:

 

 

We want to turn on all layers except four layers.    We Ctrl-click the four layers we want off to select them.   In the illustration above, we have just Ctrl-clicked the last of the four layers to select it.

 

  

 

Next, we click the on/off button for one of the selected layers to turn that layer off.   All four of the selected layers will also turn off.  

 

We then press Ctrl-I, or choose Edit - Select Inverse in the main menu, to invert the selection.

  

Next, we click the on/off button for one of the selected layers to turn that layer on.   All of the selected layers will also turn on.  Done.

Folders and Items within the Folder

Folders allow us to turn on and off all layers and folders that are within a given folder.  Folders also allow us to select, with a single click, all layers and folders that are within a given folder.    

 

 

 

Besides making it easy to turn a collection of items on and off, folders make it easy to select, with a single Ctrl-click, all items within a folder.   We can then apply what we want to do to all items in the folder together.  Most frequently we want to hide or show all items in a folder together, but we could also change the opacity of all items in a folder together, or move them up and down in the display stack together.   Hierarchies of folders and sub-folders can be nested, to allow us to quickly choose exactly the collection of layers we want.

 

Creating a new folder:

 

  1. Click the row in the Layers pane above which you would like a new folder to be created.

  2. Press the New Folder button.

  3. In the New Folder dialog, provide a name for the new folder, and press OK.

  4. A new, blank folder will be created just above the current row.

 

Adding layers to a folder:

 

  1. Select layers by Ctrl-clicking them.

  2. Press the Move to Folder button.

  3. Choose the destination folder from the drop down list.

  4. All selected layers will be moved into the destination folder.

 

Another way to add a layer to a folder is to drag and drop a new layer into a Map window.    The new layer will be added to the folder of whatever is the active layer.

 

Moving layers to a different folder:

 

  1. Select layers by Ctrl-clicking them.

  2. Press the Move to Folder button.

  3. Choose the destination folder from the drop down list.

  4. All selected layers will be moved into the destination folder.

 

Another way to move a layer from one folder to another to drag that layer's tab in a Map window's tab strip.  That will change the folder of the moved layer to that of the target layer (the layer just to the right of where the tab ends up).   

 

Moving layers out of a folder:

 

  1. Select layers by Ctrl-clicking them.

  2. Press the Move to Folder button.

  3. Choose the Move to Root option in the drop down list.

  4. All selected layers will be moved into layers list outside of any folders.

 

Dragging and dropping tabs in a map window's tag strip can cause confusion as layers are automatically moved to different folders depending on where they were dragged in the tab strip order.   A good rule to apply is that once we have ordered layers in folders within the Layers pane, is to use the Layers pane to rearrange the order of layers in the display stack, in preference to using the tab strip.

Using Folders with Layers in a Map

We can use folders in any setting where the Layers pane operates: to group layers in maps, to group frames in layouts, and to group fields in tables.   Following is an example using layers in a map.

 

 

Suppose we have a map with many layers, as seen above.  We can use the Layers pane to quickly turn layers on and off.  

 

 

For example, to simplify the background and show colors better in buildings and roads, we can turn off the Bing streets layer with a single click.

 

 

When maps use many layers those, layers often can be grouped within folders, and then a much smaller number of folder tabs can be used to conveniently turn on and off collections of layers within those folders.   In this example, we would like to group all of the layers involving transportation together, so they can be turned on/off together.  

 

 

We see that all of the transportation layers are listed after the railways layer.    We click the railways layer to move the cursor there.   New folders we create will be created just above the cursor's row.

 

We press the New Folder button.

 

 

We enter Transportation as the name of the new folder and then we press OK.

 

A new folder called Transportation appears just above the row where the cursor was positioned,  the railways row.

 

We Ctrl-click the rows from railways to waterways to select them.   A quick way to do this is to Ctrl-click the waterways layer to select it and to then Shift-Ctrl-click the railways layer, to select that layer and all those in between as well.

 

 

 We press the Move to Folder button, and we choose Transportation as the destination folder.

 

 

All of the selected layers are indented one step below the Transportation folder.    The indented layers are now grouped within the Transportation folder.   

 

 

In the map, the eight different tabs for different transportation layers have been replaced with a single Transportation folder tab.   The folder tab has the roads layer listed because that layer was the active layer when the layers were placed within the folder.

 

 

We press Ctrl-Shift-A, a shortcut to Select None.    We then click the landuse layer to position the cursor on that row, and then we create another folder called Misc Places, and we move layers from landuse to pois_a into that folder.

 

 

The result in the map is to greatly simplify the number of layer tabs, from many tabs down to only four tabs.    We can now very conveniently either click the on/off buttons in the Layers pane, or double-click layer tabs in the map window, to turn collections of layers on and off.

 

 

Clicking the on/off button for the Transportation folder immediately turns the folder off, and also turns off all of the layers within the Transportation folder.    However, turning off the folder remembers the prior on/off status of each of the layers within the folder, so when we turn the folder back on the prior arrangement of visible or hidden layers will be restored.

 

 

We can use folders to make complex hierarchies of many layers and sub-folders more manageable.  

 

 

For example, we can collapse the Misc Places folder and then click it off and on as we like, without needing to see the expanded list of the layers it contains.

 

 

Turning off the Misc Places folder simplifies the map presentation to showing only the buildings layers.   With a small number of layer tabs, we can conveniently use those to turn folders on and off, for example, double-clicking the Transportation folder to turn it back on.

 

 

Instantly, all layers within the Transportation tab are restored to their previous on/off setting within the map.

 

 

The Layers pane also instantly synchronizes to show the Transportation folder is now turned on for display.

Folders and Selection

Folders are very convenient for showing or hiding groups of many layers at once.  Folders are also great for instantly selecting groups of layers, to apply opacity to all or to set all selected layers on or off.

 

 

Selecting the Transportation folder now selects all layers grouped within it.  If we Ctrl-click the Transportation folder all of the layers within it are also selected.  The Transportation folder is like a short-cut handle to select or de-select the entire group, including the Transportation folder itself.

 

 

We can now click the on/off box for any of the selected layers to turn them all off.    This is a very quick way to alter settings for all layers in a folder.

 

 

Click the on/off box for any of the selected layers to turn them all on again.

 

Associating layers by grouping how they are selected based on a folder lets us quickly select or de-select an entire folder full of layers, and it also retains the flexibility of being able to make an exception, if we like.

 

 

For example, we can Ctrl-click the traffic_a layer to deselect it.    That also deselects the Transportation folder, since not all items within the folder no longer share the same selection status.

 

When we now click the on/off box for any of the selected layers, we can turn them all off or on without affecting the traffic_a layer.   

 

Although the selection does not include the Transportation folder, the traffic_a layer is still within the Transportation folder so we can still use the Transportation folder to control selection of all layers within the folder, including the traffic_a layer.

 

 

If we Ctrl-click the Transportation folder , the folder and all of the layers within the folder will be selected.

 

If we again Ctrl-click the selected Transportation folder, the folder and all of the layers within the folder will be deselected.

 

 Although the most frequent use for folders is to hide or show all items in a folder together, selecting everything in a folder with a single click is also very useful.  In maps we could also change the opacity of all layers in a group together, or move them up and down in the display stack together.   In tables we can change the width of all selected fields together.

Folders within Folders

Folders can be nested, to create folders within folders.    We will move secondary transportation layers into their own folder, within the main Transportation folder.

We click on the traffic layer to move the cursor to that row.

 

We press the New Folder button.

 

 

We enter Secondary as the name of the new folder and then we press OK.

A new Secondary folder appears in the Layers pane.    The Secondary folder is a sub-folder within the Transportation folder.

 

 

We Ctrl-click the traffic layer to select it, and then we Shift-Ctrl-click the waterways layer to select that layer and all layers between it and the traffic layer as well.

 

 We press the Move to Folder button.  In the dropdown list we choose Transportation\Secondary as the destination.

 

 

All selected items are indented one step to the right, moving within the Secondary folder.  

 

We press Shift-Ctrl-A to deselect all layers.

 

 

The Secondary folder now controls all indented layers within it.  If we click the Secondary folder off, instantly with one click all the layers within the folder are hidden, with their previous on/off status remembered to be restored when we turn the folder back on.

 

Folders control all within them, including all layers and any hierarchies of sub-folders within.

 

 

For example, if we Click the Transportation folder off, that turns off all layers and folders within, remembering their status.  

 

 

Clicking the Transportation folder back on restores the prior on/off settings of all layers and folders within the Transportation folder.   The system remembers that the Secondary folder within was off, so it remains off.

 

When we use nested folders, that is, levels of indentation within other levels of indentation, the uppermost folder controls all items within it,, and any subfolder within likewise controls all layers and subfolders within its hierarchy.  This is similar to how indentation hierarchy within outlines or within Windows Explorer works.

 

Manifold will apply reasonable logic to resolve commands that involve nested folders.  For example, in the illustration at left above we have deselected all layers, we have collapsed the Secondary folder, and then we Ctrl-clicked the Secondary folder to select everything in that folder.  

 

 We then press the Move to Top button.

 

Move commands cannot move items from within a folder to outside of the folder, so Manifold interprets the Move to Top command  to mean moving the Secondary folder to above all other layers in the Transportation folder.    The Secondary folder is automatically expanded, as well.

 

 

If we now press the Move to Folder button and choose Move to Root in the dropdown menu, the entire Secondary folder will be moved out of the Transportation folder hierarchy, and positioned at the bottom of the layer stack.  

 

 

To move some layers from one folder into another, we select them and then we use the Move to Folder button to move them to the desired folder.    

 

In the illustrations above, we have selected two layers, and then we click the Move to Folder button and choose Transportation from the dropdown list.   The layers move out of the Secondary  folder and into the Transportation folder.  

 

Now would be a good time to select the Bing layer and move it down to the bottom of the stack.  Image server layers hide everything below them, so they should be the lowest layers in the display.

Filter Box

The filter box will hide layers that do not include the given text in their names.  The filter box is a great way of finding layers or fields when there are hundreds of layers or fields in the Layers pane.  The filter box is an essential tool for reducing long lists of layers or fields to only those items of interest,

 

When the filter box has hidden some layers, that has an effect on other commands as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

In the illustration at left above, we have entered po into the filter box  The Layers pane now shows only those layers or folders that have the two letters p and o in sequence together.  It will also show any folders that contain a layer or subfolder with po in the name, even if that higher folder itself does not have po in the name.   

 

The Filter box will not expand any folders that are collapsed.   In the illustration at left above the Transportation folder was open before we entered text into the Filter box, and the Misc Places folder was closed.   In the illustration at right above we have expanded the Misc Places folder to see the layers it contains which match the pattern in the Filter box.

Tables and the Layers Pane

With the focus on the opened table, choose the Layers pane to manage which fields appear in a table and the column widths used for each field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The display above shows a table with 13 fields that is open on the left side of the desktop with the Layers pane open on the right side of the desktop.   We can adjust the width of a column by either double-clicking into the numeric width of the field, for example, changing the 72 point default width of the mfd_id column to, say, 35 points, or by dragging the column's border in the table.

 

 

 

 

We can adjust the width of a column by either double-clicking into the numeric width of the field, for example, changing the 72 point default width of the mfd_id column to, say, 35 points, or by dragging the column's border in the table.

 

 

 

 

If we drag the border of the mfd_id column to make it a narrower column the point size readout in the Layers pane will automatically be updated.

 

 

 

 

To hide a field, click the small on/off box at the right to toggle it off/on.  In the illustration above we have hidden the Country field.

 

To change the order in which fields are displayed, Ctrl-click the row for that field in the Layers pane to select it, and then use the up and down arrows to move the field up or down in the list.  In the illustration above we have moved the mfd_id field down one row, so that it displays between the Town column and the Year column in the table window.

 

We can move the mfd_id field up one row by pressing the Move Up button.  We also turn the Country field back on by clicking the on/off box.

 

A change will apply to all selected rows.  If we select four rows and we click the on/off box for one of the selected rows o hide it, all four of the selected rows will be hidden.   If we select three rows and then press the Move Down arrow button, all three rows will move down.  That also applies to changing the width of fields.

 

 

 

 

For example, suppose we select all rows where the column width is 96 points.   We double-click into the first such selected row to change the width of the column to 72 points.  

 

 

 

 

The moment we press Enter to accept the edit, all of the selected rows will have their column widths also changed to 72 points and the width of the columns in the table window will be adjusted.

 

The usual selection moves and keyboard shortcuts work.  Ctrl-A to select all, Shift-Ctrl-A to unselect all, Ctri-I to invert the selection.   Ctrl-click on a row to toggle it selected or unselected.   Ctrl-click on a row to select it and then Shift-ctrl-click on another row and all the rows in between will also be selected.

 

Saving a project will save current Layers pane settings for a table.  

Using Folders with Fields in a Table

Folders in the Layers pane apply to fields in tables just like they apply to layers in maps.    For an example, we have imported a drawing of countries from Natural Earth.   Natural Earth provides very useful, public domain, cartographic layers, but those layers have exceptionally many attributes for each object.   

 

 

Above we see the drawing's table, sized and scrolled to show only a small number of the columns in the table.   The columns in view provide the name of each country in many different languages.  If we are working only in English, we may want to hide the non-English name columns.   We can group fields within folders in the Layers pane to make it easier to turn on or off different sets of fields as we like.

 

Suppose our prime interest is the English language name, shown by the NAME_EN field.  We would like to group together in a folder fields for the names of countries in all the other languages, so we can turn all of them off or on together.

 

In the illustrations below we see the Layers pane, scrolled to that part of the list where all of the various other country name fields are listed.

 

 

We click the NAME_AR field to move the cursor there, and then we press the New Folder button.  The new folder will appear just above whatever is the current item.

 

 

We enter Other Names as the name of the new folder and then press OK.

 

A new folder appears in the Layers pane.

 

 

We Ctrl-click the NAME_AR field to select it and then we Shift-Ctrl-click the NAME_ZH field to select that field and all fields between it and the NAME_AR field as well.

 

 We press the Move to Folder button.  In the dropdown list we choose Other Names as the destination.   The selected fields move into the Other Names folder.  

 

We press Shift-Ctrl-A to deselect all records.  

 

 

If we Click the Other Names folder's on/off box, instantly that folder and all of the fields within it are turned off.   The system will remember the prior on/off status of any fields within the folder, to restore when the folder is clicked back on.

 

That turns off all of the selected fields, that is, all non-English country name fields.

 

 

The table is immediately updated.  We can repeat the procedure above to group within folders different collections of fields in the table that we would like quickly to hide or show.

 

 

First, to reduce the number of fields shown in the Layers pane, we can click on the - box of the Other Names folder, to collapse the folder.

Simplifying Tables

Some tables can have hundreds of fields.   We can simplify those to a manageable display using folders in the Layers pane.

 

 

We scroll to the very top of the table, and we click the featureda field to move the cursor there.  We then create a new Misc folder, which appears just above the cursor row.

 

 

When we want to reduce the number of fields shown in a table with many fields, such as a Natural Earth table or a table from a Census Bureau site, we can select many dozens of fields in a swath with a Ctrl-click on the first field row, and then a Shift-Ctrl-click on the last field row.    In the illustrations above, we have selected dozens of fields in a swath from featurecla to ADMIN..  

 

 

We press Move to Folder and then choose Misc from the dropdown menu as the destination folder.  That moves the selected layers into the Misc folder.  We then press Shift-Ctrl-A or press Edit - Select None to deselect the selected layers.

 

We can click the - icon next to the Misc folder to close the folder.  That collapses the display from a too-long list of dozens of fields to the much simpler display in the right hand illustration above.   Grouping many fields into a few folders gives us an easy way to turn on/off many dozens of fields at once.

 

We can now easily click on/off dozens of fields at once.  If we like, we can even click both folders on/off together with a single click:  If we select both of the folders by Ctrl-clicking them, we can now with a press of the spacebar toggle many dozens of layers on/off at the same time.   The spacebar toggling action applies to all selected items.

 

 

That is a fast way of reducing very many fields in a table to only those few we want to see.  With only a few keystrokes, we have tamed the staggering amount of information in a Natural Earth table.

 

 Although the most frequent use for folders is to hide or show all items in a folder together, since the essence of being in a folder is that items are selected with a single click together, we can do anything to those folder members that can be done with selected items:  in the case of fields in tables, we could also change the width of all columns in a folder together, or move them up and down in the display stack together, to move the columns left and right in the table window.

Query Results Tables

Query results tables are virtual tables in that they are constructed on the fly to show the results of a query.  To make them permanent we would use SELECT ... INTO to create a real table.  However, for more effective browsing of results tables we can use many display features such as the Layers pane and Filters with query results tables.

 

 

 

For example, in the illustration above we have opened a Command Window and have run a simple query:

 

SELECT * FROM [Coin Hordes];

 

The results table appears below the command window.    If we switch to the Layers pane, it will control the presentation of fields in the results table.

 

We have altered settings in the Layers pane to hide the mfd_id field in the results table and we have adjusted widths of columns.  Such settings go away with the next run of the query but they are so quick to specify they can be very convenient when browsing a complex results table.  

 

For example, if we are only interested in two fields out of twenty in a results table, we Ctrl-click on those two fields in the Layers pane to select them, we Ctrl-I to invert the selection, and we double-click any of those selected fields OFF to hide all eighteen of the selected fields.  That is a very quick way to hide all but two fields in a results table, taking but three seconds for an experienced Manifold user.

 

We can also use folders in the Layers pane for results table.  These will disappear when the query is re-run or the Command Window closed, but folders are so quick to set and use that they are often convenient to use for managing results tables with very many fields.   In the case of a query that fetches all fields from a Natural Earth table, for example, we can select many dozens of fields in a swath with a Ctrl-click on the top field row and then a Shift-Ctrl-click on the bottom field row of the swath, press Ctrl-Right Arrow to group them, and now we have a single-click way of turning off many dozens of fields in that folder, or to turn them back on.

Tables and Layouts

With the focus on the opened layout, choose the Layers pane to manage how  frames are displayed in the layout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We start with a layout that has six frames:  three of the frames are text frames, two are frames showing Bing satellite or street map web servers, and the bottom frame is a map that shows buildings and roads in Monaco.  The map frame is the largest and appears at the bottom of the display stack.  If it were moved up in the display stack, it would hide any frames below it.

 

 

Clicking show/hide boxes in the Layers pane will turn off any frames we do not want to appear.  In the illustrations above, we have turned off two of the text frames as well as the Bing streets layer.

Using Folders with Frames in a Layout

Folders within the Layers pane apply to frames in layouts just as it they apply to fields in tables or to layers in maps.    We use the Monaco layout above as an example: we would like to group all of the text frames together in one folder, and we would like to group the Bing inset frames together in another folder.  We can then manipulate all frames in the same folder together.

 

 

Using folders with frames is easy: we begin by using the New Folder button twice to create two new folders, one called Text, and the other called Servers.  

 

 

We Ctrl-click the three text frames to select them. We then press the Move to Folder button and choose Text from the dropdown menu.  That moves the text frames into the Text folder.  The illustration at right above shows the three frames within the folder, after we have pressed Shift-Ctrl-A or Edit - Select None to deselect them.

 

 

Next, we Ctrl-click the two Bing layers to select them.  We then press the Move to Folder button and choose Servers from the dropdown menu.  That moves the two Bing frames into the Servers folder.  The illustration at right above shows the two frames within the folder, after we have pressed Shift-Ctrl-A or Edit - Select None to deselect them.

 

 

Having created two folders, we can now use them.  First, we quickly turn off all text frames, to better demonstrate the effect of using a folder.

 

 

We click the on/off box for the Text folder to switch the folder off.

 

 

Instantly, all of the text frames within the folder are hidden.   The prior on/off status of the text frames is remembered, to be restored if we turn the Text folder back on.

 

 

If we like, we can collapse the Text folder to hide the frames it contains.   We can turn all the layers on and off by clicking the on/off button for the Text folder.

 

 

Next, we click the on/off box for the Servers folder, to turn the folder off.

 

 

Both of the Bing frames are hidden.

 

 

A keyboard shortcut:  We can turn all frames within folders on/off at once by Ctrl-clicking both folders to select them, as seen above with the folders collapsed.  We then press the spacebar to toggle them on/off.

 

 

 

Instantly, all frames within the folders are toggled on.   Note that the frames within the Text and Servers folders are shown in the layout with red selection color, because selecting a folder also selects everything within the folder.

 

 Although the most frequent use for folders is to hide or show all items in a folder together, since the essence of being in a folder is that items are selected with a single click together, we can do anything to those folder members that can be done with selected items:  in layouts, we could also change the opacity of all frames in a folder together, or move them up and down in the display stack together.   

Background in a Map

We usually use the Background layer with map windows.  The background color is a property of a map and, once set, will persist even if the map window is closed.

 

 

Consider a map with two layers as seen above, a Cities layer of points and a Regions layer that is a drawing of regions as areas.   By default the Layers pane uses white color for the background.

 

 

We can change the background color to a different color by double-clicking into the background color well and changing the color to any desired, such as the light green color seen above.

 

 

Clicking the on/off box for the Background layer turns off background color, showing the default checkerboard pattern that indicates transparency.

Background in Drawings

Each individual component, other than maps, can have its background color temporarily set to some color different than the default by opening the component in a window and setting background color in the Layers pane.   The background color specified for a component window applies for the duration the component is open in its own window.  If we close the window and open it again, the background color is again reset to white.   To make the background color persist, use a map window, which we can create from the drawing window using Edit - Save as Map.

 

 

For example, we can double-click open in its own drawing window the Regions drawing used as a layer in the example map earlier in this topic.  The Layers pane shows one layer for a drawing window until other layers are added to the window. The background color by default is white.

 

 

Just as with a map, clicking the on/off box for the Background layer turns off background color, showing the default checkerboard pattern that indicates transparency.

 

We can double-click into the background color well to change the background color for the drawing to a blue color as seen above.   Changing the color for a drawing's background is a temporary measure that will apply only when that drawing is opened in its own window and only for as long as that window is open.   It will not apply if the drawing is used as a layer in a map and will not be saved with the drawing.   Only background colors specified for maps are saved with the map.

 

 

we can open the Regions drawing in its own window at the same time that it is used as a layer in a map window.   With the focus on the map window, the Layers pane shows the background color specified for the map, a light green.   The blue color used as a background for the Regions drawing does not carry over into the map.  If we close the drawing window and reopen it again, the background color in the drawing window will again be white.

 

If we like a particular background color combination used in a drawing window, we can save it by choosing Edit - Save as Map.  That will save the drawing as a new map with that drawing as a layer and that background color as the background.

Z Order

The third dimension, height, in a coordinate system is usually called the Z axis, after the X and Y axes used for flat plotting.   By analogy, the GIS and programming term Z order means the vertical order in which layers or frames appear in the vertical stack shown in a map window or a layout, as well as the left-to-right order in which fields appear in a table.  Z order in Manifold maps, layouts and tables appears in the component's properties in easily human-readable form.

 

 

Consider the example map seen above, a map with two layers.  The Cities layer appears above the Regions layer in the Z order stack, as shown by the order of layer tabs in the map window and by the order of layers in the Layers pane.

 

 

In the Project pane, if we right-click on the Map component and choose Properties, we can launch the properties dialog.  We can see that Maps have Item properties for each layer that appears in a map, specifying information about each item in human readable JSON form.   The Z values specify the vertical order, with a Z of 0 indicating the top layer, a Z of 1 indicating the next layer from the top and so on.

 

 

 

Moving layers up and down in the display stack, either by dragging their tabs in the Map window, or by using the Move controls in the Layer pane, simply changes their Z order numbers in the Map's Item properties.   For example, suppose we move the Regions layer above the Cities layer, as seen in the illustrations above.

 

 

That changes the Z order numbers in the Properties for Item.1 and Item.0.   The Cities item now has a Z value of 1 in the JSON property string, indicating it comes second in display order, lower than the Regions layer with a Z value of 0.

 

 

If we like, we can manually edit properties for the Map to change the Z values back so the Regions layer has a Z value of 1 and the Cities layer has a Z value of 0.   We press OK to apply the change.

 

 

Instantly, the Map window and Layers pane update to the new Z order.

 

 

As with all properties in Manifold, the various Item properties for Maps, Layouts, and Tables can be seen in the mfd_meta System Data table.   We have selected the two properties of interest in our example in the illustration above to make them more obvious.  

 

Tables in default configuration, before we change default order of fields or default sizes of fields, will not have Item properties.  Those will automatically appear when we first make a change to default order or field size.  

 

If for any reason a layer in a map, a frame in a layout, or a field in a table has a missing or invalid Z order number, that item will appear at the bottom of the display stack.

Visual Effects

Changing the background color can dramatically change the appearance of a window.   The following three illustrations below show the effects of changing only the background color from the default white, to black to green.

 

 

It is important to consider background color when using Style to choose colors for objects in drawings.   In the illustrations above a white background hides the yellow road lines while a black background hides the black line used for a railroad.  The formatting shown above was intended for use with a green background color, and not with white or black background.   It is obviously a bad idea to use the same background color as used by objects in a map.  See more examples in the Example: How Not to Format a Drawing  topic.

 

Besides the practical aspect of not using a background color that is the same as a color used for objects in a drawing, the choice of background color can have a big aesthetic effect.  The background color set by the Layers pane can dramatically change the look and feel of a visual display, as seen below where different formatting using the Style pane is combined with different choices of background color in the Layers pane.  The objects in all three examples are exactly the same.

 

Always On, Non-Modal Panes

Most software, including Manifold, makes extensive use of dialogs that are modal.   A modal dialog grabs the user interface so we must complete our work with the dialog, usually by clicking an OK, Cancel, or some other button, before we can continue working with other parts of the program.   The term modal comes from the dialog's insistence that whatever user interface mode the dialog applies is the only one that is active.

 

A non-modal or modeless pane is one which does not grab exclusive use of the user interface.    The Project pane, the Layers pane, and the Contents pane collection of panes are non-modal.  We can have the Project pane open to show us a list of what is in the project even as we continue work with other dialogs.   Display-only non-modal panes like the Project pane are fairly common in software, but in addition Manifold provides the exceptional ability to control the system using sophisticated, display + command, controls within the Layers pane and within an array of very powerful non-modal panes in the Contents pane.   

 

When we call up a pane that pane is non-modal:  it is always on, ready to display information or to accept a command with no need to enter or exit a dialog, and without locking up the rest of the program.   We can move the mouse away from the pane into a different window, perhaps to pan or to zoom that window, or even into a modal dialog, to continue working however we like and the panes will automatically adjust to what we are doing.   We can go back and forth between panes and other windows, panes, dialogs and other controls without any need to exit or to close the Project pane, Layers pane or Contents pane.   

Notes

Read-only data - The Layers pane recognizes when the data it displays is read-only, and disables controls and commands that cannot be used with read-only data. Temporary layouts and temporary maps are always writable. Tables and queries always appear writable with changes to tables on read-only data sources being kept in the window and being discarded after the window is closed.

 

Widths in printer's points - Why are the widths of columns in tables specified in printer's points as a unit of measure?  Tables display text in fonts that are specified in printer's points, with displays and printouts normally scaling to show those fonts in reasonably accurate real-world sizes.   Setting the width of columns using the same units of measure allows table column sizes to scale the same way as the fonts they contain.

 

Folders only with consecutive layers - In the Layers pane, all layers within a folder are consecutive layers.   Using consecutive layers as part of a folder repeats a familiar metaphor, as used in outlines, to group together layers under a folder in a simple, clear, easily-understood interface.

 

Selecting layers follows folder hierarchy - Selecting or deselecting a folder also selects or deselects everything within that folder, including all layers and subfolders.   Deselecting a layer or a subfolder within a folder hierarchy, deselects all folders above it in the hierarchy.  That follows the rule that if a folder is selected, all of the layers and subfolders are selected as well.

 

Moving layers follows folder hierarchy -  Moved layers using move up/down commands in the Layers pane never change their folder level, and layers never move between folders as a result of move up/down commands.

 

Grouping layers in the Layers pane preserves folder selection - Actions that attempt to create folders with a selected parent and unselected children are denied.

 

Missing or Invalid Z Order - Table fields, layout frames, and map layers with invalid or missing Z order info are placed last in the display stack (at the bottom).

 

No redundant layers - A given layer can appear just once in a map.   For example, a drawing of roads can appear only once as a layer in a map.  We cannot have a map that has two layer tabs that both refer to the same roads drawing.   It is possible using programming or by manually changing a map's properties to add two layers to a map that both refer to the same roads drawing.  However, in that case only one layer tab will appear in the map window.   Both "roads" layers will appear in the Layers pane but only the first, upper layer will be valid and will be usable.   Any additional layers referring to the same roads drawing will be invalid and will not be usable. The invalid layers will appear in the Layers pane so we can select them and delete them, a useful way of cleaning up programming errors.

Videos

Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 1 - This video shows how to download and use a portable installation for Manifold Future.  The video also shows the Layers pane, layers and layer opacity, one click use of data source favorites, using your own archival favorite and getting record values instantly.  If you are using Viewer or Radian Studio, download and use the Future version to get access to all these powerful new features.

See Also

Getting Started

 

User Interface Basics

 

Maps

 

Drawings

 

Images

 

Labels

 

Selection

 

Layer Opacity

 

Style

 

Contents Pane

 

Record Pane

 

Style Pane

 

Transform: Overlay Topology

 

Example: Layers Tutorial - We take a tour of the Layers pane, learning how to manage layer display order, select layers, turn several layers on and off at the same time, alter opacity settings for one or more layers and how to change background color.

 

Example: Style Pane Quickstart - A tutorial introduction to using the Style pane to apply color, symbology, size and rotation to areas, lines and points in drawings.

 

Example: Create Maps - Maps are used to show layers that can be drawings, images, and labels.  This topic shows how to create new, blank maps, how to create maps from existing components, and how to create maps from other maps.

 

Example: How Not to Format a Drawing - When using Style to format a drawing it is a really bad idea to use the same color for objects that is used for the background color.   It can also be a bad idea to use transparent color for objects.   This topic illustrates why.